Groningen iGEM team wins gold medal for QR code made of bacteria

More than three hundred participants in iGEM finale

Groningen wins gold for QR code made of bacteria

On Monday, a QR code grown from bacteria won the RUG team a gold medal in the iGEM finale. iGEM is an international competition for genetically engineered ‘machines’.

Anne de Vries

Door Anne de Vries

6 November om 11:20 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 6 November 2019
om 16:38 uur.
Anne de Vries

By Anne de Vries

November 6 at 11:20 AM.
Last modified on November 6, 2019
at 16:38 PM.

‘We weren’t one hundred percent sure if we’d met all the requirements, so we’re really happy and proud’, says life science and technology student Lieke van Iersel (21), who is on the Groningen team. 

The gold medal doesn’t mean they actually won, by the way, just that they have exceeded expectations in the competition. Fifty-six other teams also got a gold medal. The total number of participating teams is three hundred. Seven of them were from the Netherlands. 

Van Iersel says the competition was very friendly. ‘We are all just scientists who are really passionate about synthetic biology. We could just criticise each other’s data.’ 

Bio ink

The RUG team has been working on their organic QR code since February. They made their own bio ink from bacteria. They modified a 3D printer to print the ink as a QR code on a little plate with food for the bacteria. The QR code doesn’t reveal itself unless the user follows a specific set of instructions, which means the invention could be useful for transmitting sensitive information.  

The QR code can also be made out of bio-sensors, which could then be used to detect rotten meat. You’d only have to scan the code to find out whether a product is safe. ‘We’ve been able to show all the fun things you can do with genetic modification’, says Van Iersel. ‘Everyone knows what QR codes and 3D printers are.’ 

The RUG team’s project isn’t finished yet. Over the next few weeks, Van Iersel and her colleagues will teach high school students about genetic modification. They’re also looking for new team members for next year’s competition.

By Translation by Sarah van Steenderen


06 November 2019 | 6-11-2019, 16:38